The rumors about a Ducati Scooter for the next model year are hitting the internet hard lately, and that is perhaps unsurprising. Ducati’s sales stalled in the third quarter of this year, and the Italian motorcycle company at this point in time is simply trying to finish 2013 on par with its 2012 success.
There is also the fact that Audi AG now owns Ducati Motor Holding, and would like to see the ~44,000 unit company bump its figures into the six-figure territory, and help its German owner take a certain Bavarian brand head-on in the two and four-wheeled industries.
The current slate of internet conjecture about a high-performance maxi-scooter, along the same lines as the Yamaha TMAX, appear to be just that: conjecture. The cold weather of the off-season, and slow news days that stem from it, serve only to fuel this sort of speculation, but that is not to say that these rumors aren’t without a grain of truth.
We already know that 2014 will see the debut of the Ducati Scrambler, which will eventually be Ducati’s foray into the small-displacement marketplace. With many of the Japanese OEMs, now along with European brands like KTM and Triumph, taking the under 500cc market more seriously, the only real holdouts in the motorcycle industry are BMW and Ducati.
It says something when even Harley-Davidson is getting in on the small-displacement / developing-nation two-wheel market trend with a purpose-built machine.
The writing is on the wall for Ducati to build its own small displacement machines, and yes even a scooter. The Bologna Brand of course will stamp its own unique flare on the two-wheeler. It will be exclusive, it will feature timeless Italian lines in its design, and it will be centered around performance — this much we can count upon.
Similar to how Ducati built a bridge, with bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada, and finally the Diavel, to move from a sport bike brand into a well-rounded brand of performance motorcycles, the Ducati Scrambler will be a point of genesis for a similar push into small-displacement machines.
The expectation is that the Scrambler will be Ducati’s first modern model not to be built in Bologna, and that the air-cooled machine will be geared to sell primarily outside of Europe and North America (we would be surprised if those markets didn’t get the Scrambler as well though).
Ducati seems set to repurpose a two-valve motor from the Monster series for the Scrambler’s power plant, but at some point the Italians with have to design a smaller purpose-built engine, possibly a single-cylinder for markets like India, Indonesia, Thailand, etc.
While the potential sales volume of these machines could certainly justify a break from Ducati’s current “multiple bikes from the same engine” design philosophy, it is not hard to imagine a progression into how Ducati’s small-displacement engines could find their way into different chassis — like a scooter, for instance.
Just like the markets of emerging countries, the sales potential in the small-displacement realm can no longer be ignored by the large OEM brands in developed markets. This means the matter of Ducati building scooter is not one of if, but instead is one of when. Will that “when” be 2014? That remains to be seen, though we think not.
Ducati hasn’t built the foundation for that bridge yet; and besides, a change of that magnitude would be felt all the way down the rumormill pipe at this point — Bologna just isn’t that good at keeping secrets. Could we see a Ducati scooter in five years’ time though? That sounds more like a guarantee than speculation.
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